What Is an Escrow?

When opening an escrow, the buyer and seller establish terms and conditions for the transfer of ownership of that property. These terms and conditions are given to a neutral third party known as the escrow. The Escrow Officer, in turn, has the responsibility of seeing that these terms of the escrow are carried out. The escrow is an independent third party – the vehicle by which the interest of all parties to the transaction is protected.

How Does the Escrow Process Work?

The Escrow Officer takes instructions based on the terms of your Purchase Contract and the lender’s requirements. The Escrow Officer can hold inspection reports and bills for work performed as required by the Purchase Contract. Other elements of the escrow include hazard and title insurance, and the conveyance deed from the seller to you. Escrow cannot be completed until these items have been satisfied and all parties have signed escrow documents.

What Does the Escrow Company Do?

The escrow company is a neutral third party, such as Fidelity National Title Agency, that maintains the escrow and impartially oversees the escrow process, ensuring that all conditions of the sale are properly met.

How Do I Open an Escrow?

He/She will place your initial deposit (earnest money) into an escrow account at their title agency of choice. Written evidence of the deposit is generally included in your copy of the sales contract. The funds will then be deposited in a separate escrow account and processed through your local bank. You will receive a receipt for the funds from their title agency.

What Information Will I Have to Provide?

Date of birth, social security number, etc. This information is strictly confidential.

How Long Is an Escrow?

The length of an escrow is determined by the terms of the Purchase Contract and can range from a few days to several months. The average length of an escrow is usually 30 to 45 days.

When Do I Sign Closing Documents and Where?

An Escrow Agent will contact you to make the appointment for you to sign your closing documents. At this time, your Escrow Officer will also tell you the amount of money you will need to bring in and their office address for the signing.

What Do I Need for My Appointment?

Your title agency will give you a list of items you will need in preparation for your appointment to sign escrow papers.

What Kind of Identification Is Needed?

All parties – There are several acceptable forms of identification, which may be presented. One of the following forms must be presented at the signing of escrow in order for the signature to be notarized: a current driver’s license, or State of Arizona Department of Motor Vehicles ID card.

What Are the Lender's Requirements?

Buyers – Check with your lender to make sure you have satisfied all your lender’s requirements before coming to your title company to sign your papers.

What About Fire and Hazard Insurance?

Buyers – You must have fire and hazard insurance in place before the lender will send money to your title company to fund the loan. Whenever you buy a home, you must have insurance. Once you have spoken to your insurance agent, call your title company with the insurance agent’s name and phone number so they can make sure that the policy complies with your lender’s requirements.

How Do I Get the Title to My Home?

Buyers – You may refer to the “Ways to Take Title” (on the following page) for general information with regard to holding title, but it is best to contact your attorney or tax consultant.

What Happens With the Final Proceeds Check? – Sellers

The proceeds check is disbursed upon the close of escrow and your Escrow Officer is able to verify with the County Recorder that the documents have recorded and legal transfer has occurred. The proceeds check can be delivered to your Realtor® so that he/she can deliver it to you, or you may make alternate arrangements with your title agency.

What About Escrow Closing?

The escrow closing is the legal transfer of title to the property from the seller to the buyer. Usually, the Conveyance Deed and the Deed of Trust are recorded within one working day of your title agency’s receipt of loan funds. This completes the transaction and signifies the close of escrow.

When Will I Get the Deed?

The deed to your new home will be mailed directly to you by the County Recorder’s Office several weeks after the close of escrow. Be sure to keep it in a safe place!